“Do as I say, not as I do.” It’s the phrase of parents who desire that their children don’t pick up their bad habits; that their children work harder than they did, appreciate more, live life fuller (more fully?) than they have.
This past spring I signed James and Natalie up for t-ball and coach-pitch, respectively. We set out practicing fun drills, warming up arms, strengthening coordination. At first, practice was fun for everyone. Then, kids started whining and refusing and suddenly it was no fun going to the ball field. We got over the hump playing hot potato in the yard with our ball and gloves, batting at all kinds different balls (hitting a football is funny and challenging) and following their lead.
What I fundamentally forgot is that our kids look up to us and secretly watch our every move. They listen (compliance is different…) which is evident the first time your 3-year old says, “Could I just get some peace and quiet here?!?”
I recently started playing on a parks and rec softball team. Last week was our first game and a double-header at that. A combination of nerves, excitement and general rusty skills lead to a batting average of, well, less than desireable. I needed practice.
So this beautiful morning we headed to the park. The grass was wet, my allergies were acting up and I continued to let my no-hitting head game prevent me from improving. Discouraging.
But I can’t quit. I can’t just hope my team doesn’t notice that I will always count for an out. Besides. They keep stats. I have to keep trying.
This afternoon in the front yard I grabbed an old soccer ball and pitched to myself. I was like Babe Ruth of the front yard. Hit after hit, sailing across the driveway. Soon, I had little munchkins wanting to hit, too; wanting to pitch. They all took their turns and it was their idea. They asked me a lot of questions about why I was practicing and why on earth I was using a soccer ball. And we talked about the importance in continuing to try. And that practice is the only chance of improvement. We batted at imaginary balls and we all hit homeruns. We all cheered each other on, high fives, smiles and applause.
I drew on-deck circles for safety – four batters in a small space is dangerous, just ask Jean Segura and his friend Ryan Braun.
Kids. They do as you do, not so much as you say. If you want to challenge my theory, pile up your plate with Cheetos and theirs with broccoli and see who cries first.